Family Photos. It’s that Time of Year! - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

More than Just Say Cheese!: What Does Your Holiday Family Photo Communicate?

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I love opening the mail during the last two weeks of December to find holiday cards, or electronic e-cards filled with beautiful family pictures.  There are photos with smiles, grins, funny moments, matching hats, and… some of children who are forced to say CHEESE.  Each picture has its' own story, more than just a snapshot.

Are you a new parent? Maybe your little ones have a new big brother or sister? Or simply the kids are getting older, and you would like to seal a moment in time with them. Whatever your reason, I love the excuse of the holidays to get the family together, and take a couple of shots with your loved ones!

A professional photo shoot, pictures from your last vacation, or any photos from your library - every family chooses a different way of snapping this one photo. What is yours?

Photos communicate so much about people, individually and as a group. Did you know that about 93% of all communication is non-verbal? This makes your pictures ideal for communicating just about anything you would like them too. And if you are like me, you'll want to make sure they communicate the individual personalities of your family as a whole!

What makes your family uniquely special? Let your family photos reflect that special thing. This year you can have a photo that exhibits the individuals who make up your family unit. Body Language and Facial expressions are two major components that communicate the messages in our pictures! As a communications expert I spend a lot of time observing, teaching, and studying facial expressions and body language.

How is body language used in your pictures? Body language is the gestures, movements, and mannerisms you use to communicate with others. We use body language to fill in the information that our words leave out. Watch people around you- crossed arms, the direction of your feet, open or closed hands, etc. All of these gestures subtly impact the message that is communicated to your brain.

How about relationship dynamics?  You can literally 'see' them in body language. When family members stand close to one another, with feet pointed in the same direction it shows unity. You can also have an older sibling crossing arms to a younger sibling who has his/her arms playfully up in the air, or an older sibling embracing a new little bundle of joy to express love.  Body language can be fun!

What about facial expression?! Facial expressions are feelings represented by the facial muscles. This is where a lot of the personality and mood comes out!  Don't force your little ones to "say cheese!" Help them feel relaxed by exhaling with verbalization games. For example, ask them to "make some noises: like a Lion or a tiger, etc." This will relax the facial muscles, and help them look as natural as possible.

Here are 3 helpful hints to getting the best photo(s):

  1. Clearly Communicate: Body language and facial expression are tools to add richness to your photos: body language communicates the relationship dynamics, while facial expressions communicate the individual emotions. Take some photos in which your facial expressions are all similar, and some photos in which each facial expression is contrasting. This ensures you will have a good mix to choose from.

  2.  Let it Happen: The most endearing photographs are often captured while children are in their natural environments.  Allow kids to play, take the lead so to speak, by using a fun activity they can participate in and letting the photographer snap away. Body language and facial expressions will occur naturally so you can see the true personalities of your little ones rise to the surface!

  3. Don't get Too Matchy. Though to each his own, when it comes to wardrobe, remember you want to "go" with each other and not match exactly.  It is great to let each family member display his or her personality in his or her ensemble. You can choose a color palette to coordinate but remember to show the individuality of each person.

Most importantly remember, these keepsakes don't have to be all about the product; Enjoy the process! Express yourselves as you communicate the individual components of your family unit! Now… "Say CHEESE!"

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